“Landfills and fossil fuels no longer meet the pressing needs of our time,” Lockheed Martin declares on its website.
The aerospace and defense company says it's serious about re-routing waste from landfills and using it to create energy. Its Lockheed Martin Energy subsidiary launched last year, with a focus on tidal energy, energy storage, nuclear systems, energy management and bioenergy. And the company opened a bioenergy plant in Owego, New York, in September -- which uses Concord Blue’s technology to convert waste into renewable energy.
The Owego plant uses a process called advanced gasification to create energy. The first step is to collect waste. The plant now uses wood waste, but the operators plan to use municipal, commercial or industrial waste in the future.
To begin the process, metal, glass and other materials are removed, and the waste is dried. Then, gas is created by heating proprietary heat-carrier spheres which are mixed in with the waste. The solid waste turns to gas when it reaches a certain temperature, and it then travels to a reforming vessel that turns the gas into synthesis gas or syngas. The syngas is finally used to fuel a combustion engine that generates electricity.
Since no incineration is used, no harmful by-products are created and emissions are limited.
“This new bioenergy technology can change the way our world addresses clean energy and waste management challenges,” Frank Armijo, vice president of Lockheed Martin Energy, said in a statement. “At our bioenergy facility in Owego, we’re able to reduce our own energy costs while also demonstrating the groundbreaking capability of our technology to potential users.”Lockheed Martin and Concord Blue also began building a bioenergy plant in Herten, Germany, last year. The plant will convert 50,000 tons of feedstock a year into 5 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power about 5,000 local homes and businesses.
“The Herten bioenergy facility will provide real benefits to the local area while demonstrating the promising capabilities and international potential of our bioenergy technologies,” Mo Vargas, director of Bioenergy at Lockheed Martin Energy, said in a statement.Craig Moeller, director of advanced energy generation for Lockheed Martin, spoke to Environmental Leader about how the company is converting waste into energy. He said the Owego plant is a “small-scale 250-kilowatt gross output demonstration facility to prove out the Concord Blue advanced gasification technology.” Moeller described the Herten, Germany, plant as a “5-plus megawatt facility gross output that’s going to do biomass like wood chips.”
Concord Blue is not the only company with which Lockheed Martin is partnering to create bioenergy. In October, Lockheed Martin signed a teaming agreement with CoGen Ltd. to develop waste-to-energy projects in the United Kingdom, beginning with a plant in Cardiff, Wales. The plant will convert about 150,000 tons of waste a year into up to 15 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power about 15,000 local homes and businesses. Construction is slated to begin in 2018, and the plant is expected to go online in 2020. It will also use Concord Blue’s advanced gasification technology. The three companies plan to partner together on other projects.
Waste-to-energy is a solution that can solve the problem of landfills filling up with waste. As Moeller explained, “Waste generation around the world is expected to almost double by 2025.”
Image credit: Flickr/Sustainable Fund Trust
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.